There are two kinds of cooks in the world: dumpers and measurers. You know what those are? Dumpers guess at amounts of ingredients in recipes. Usually dumpers have cooked for a while and can estimate amounts of ingredients in recipes. They usually have recipes memorized so their cookbooks are largely in their heads or make it up as they go. A really good dumper’s food always tastes great. This is a very relaxed way of cooking and there are fewer things to wash up when you’re done. Measurers cannot cook without a recipe, measuring cups, measuring spoons, and the exact ingredients. Occasionally a reckless streak will hit them and they alter the recipe a little. They have more clean-up because of all the utensils needed for measuring, combining, sifting, and other cooking activities. Their recipes taste delicious every time because there’s less risk of messing it up.
My mom is one of the best cooks I know and she’s a dumper. She’s cooked for so many years that she has a good eye for amounts. Watching her when I was growing up, I thought everyone was a dumper. Measuring spoons and cups were just suggested amounts for the unexperienced. So when I married, I had a small recipe book in my head that I cooked from, mostly by dumping.
When we were married, Hubby had been a bachelor for a few years so he was used to cooking as a measurer with his Betty Crocker cookbook. He had more experience cooking than I did so he taught me a lot about cooking when we first married. I gradually took over the cooking duties and became a combination dumper/measurer. My internal cookbook grew, but I also used recipes. As time went by, I cooked more like Mom, by dumping, mainly because it was fewer dishes to wash.
I enjoyed cooking when I was a stay-at-home mom. Being a combo dumper/measurer, I liked to alter recipes. Sometimes it turned out better; lots of times it turned out worse. At least I got to experiment with things. For instance, I started out with a regular pizza crust recipe. Over the years, I changed it and tried different things with it. Gradually I perfected my pizza crust recipe. It’s a dumper’s recipe where I put a little of this and that. I know how much that is, but I’ve never measured it. So when people ask me for the recipe, I can’t really tell them. I hate not to share the recipe, but I honestly don’t know what to write down. Instead, I call it a family secret recipe.
When I started working full time, I got tired of cooking. After a day of stress or boredom (depending on the position I had at the time), I didn’t feel like cooking so it became drudgery. After we moved to Boise, we ate out a lot. We had a lot of different restaurants to choose from and we took advantage of that. A lot of the time, we brought home leftovers and enjoyed a couple more meals from it. I didn’t have to cook for another day or two.
When Hubby retired, he took over cooking duties. He’s still a really good cook. Now that I’m retired and I have time again, I am relearning to cook and love it. I’ve reverted to my measurer ways, but am slowly becoming a dumper on some recipes. I’ve come to view a recipe as a suggestion and I end up adding or omitting ingredients as I see fit. That’s adventurous cooking.
Cooking for two is very hard. Sandwiches are about the only meal I know of that I can make for just two. It’s hard to cut some recipes in half or fourths, but if you’re adventurous, it can be done. I’m thankful we love leftovers because I can make regular recipe sizes and we heat it up for several meals. That way I don’t have to cook every day.
There’s not really a preferred method of cooking. It’s all about whatever is the most comfortable for you and gets you to what you want—good nutritious food and occasionally decadent food to make life interesting.